37 ‘ghost shops’ on Geelong’s major retail strips

 

More than 30 shops stand empty on four of Geelong's most popular CBD strips, as businesses shut down in the wake of COVID-19.

The Geelong Advertiser last week identified 37 vacant ground-level stores on city streets, many with "For lease" signs.

Ryrie, Moorabool, Malop and Little Malop streets, once the bustling centre of Geelong retail, have been hardest hit.

Moorabool Street is the emptiest, with 17 shops now unoccupied, followed by Ryrie Street (13), Malop Street (four) and Little Malop Street (three).

Geelong Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ben Flynn said while the state of the CBD's ghost shops was "really sad", he had "great confidence" Geelong will survive.

17 shops sit empty in Moorabool St, from Myers St to Brougham St. picture: Glenn Ferguson
17 shops sit empty in Moorabool St, from Myers St to Brougham St. picture: Glenn Ferguson

 

Ryrie St has 13 vacant premises between Yarra and Gheringhap Streets. Picture: Peter Ristevski
Ryrie St has 13 vacant premises between Yarra and Gheringhap Streets. Picture: Peter Ristevski

He also revealed both levels of government have worked closely with regional stakeholders to discover their priorities for helping businesses survive, with federal Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar already hinting "we should have confidence in that space".

"The chamber has been in direct contact with the federal government and state government recently, and been able to have significant input into both of those budgets, which are coming in the next week or two," Mr Flynn said.

Former Little Malop Street store Mid City Gift & Trophy Centre moved from its central location to a new South Geelong premises in April. Co-owner Emma Conn said the move was prompted largely by changes to on-street parking in the CBD.

Ryrie St has 13 vacant premises between Yarra and Gheringhap Streets. Picture: Peter Ristevski
Ryrie St has 13 vacant premises between Yarra and Gheringhap Streets. Picture: Peter Ristevski

 

 

The old Speakys shop in Little Malop street sits empty. Little Malop St has 3 vacant premises between Yarra and Gheringhap Streets. Two out of the three had For Lease signs on them. Picture: Peter Ristevski
The old Speakys shop in Little Malop street sits empty. Little Malop St has 3 vacant premises between Yarra and Gheringhap Streets. Two out of the three had For Lease signs on them. Picture: Peter Ristevski

"Customers complained when the street parking was changed to seating and planter boxes, as did we," Mrs Conn said.

"The majority of our customers want easy drive-up, drop-off and collection. We don't rely on walk-by traffic, so it made sense to move out of the CBD."

Despite there being a "bit of a run to go", Mr Flynn said there was hope for the city to rebound, as strong infrastructure investment and population growth continued.

"So many businesses have been impacted by the pandemic, and now we're starting to see more of those sad news that businesses are leaving the market," Mr Flynn said.

Malop St has 4 vacant premises between Yarra and Gheringhap Streets. Two out of the four had For Lease signs on them. Picture: Peter Ristevski
Malop St has 4 vacant premises between Yarra and Gheringhap Streets. Two out of the four had For Lease signs on them. Picture: Peter Ristevski

 

Ryrie St has 13 vacant premises between Yarra and Gheringhap Streets. Picture: Peter Ristevski
Ryrie St has 13 vacant premises between Yarra and Gheringhap Streets. Picture: Peter Ristevski

"I reckon the long-term story is still a very good one for Geelong, I still have great confidence in that.

"Businesses have got a sense of hope we're moving in the right direction."

Mr Flynn said businesses still needed a long-term plan for COVID-19 restrictions, before reaching a safe environment to "open up the doors".

The federal government has announced a new insolvency framework and lending reforms to support small business recovery in Victoria. Geelong-based senator Sarah Henderson said the reforms gave more support for businesses to "come out on the other side of this crisis".

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Originally published as 37 'ghost shops' on Geelong's major retail strips


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